By Bishop Bill Ray
15 October 2022
George Arthur Hearn, 1935 – 2022.
George Arthur Hearn’s faith and ministry journey was diverse as well as being one that enabled people to explore the gospel of Jesus Christ.
George was born and grew up in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. In his early days of ministry he was a Church of Christ minister based at Warragul, in West Gippsland. George came in contact with the then Bishop of Gippsland, David Garnsey who had an immense influence on his faith journey. George was ordained deacon in the Anglican Church in 1964 and priested 1965. George discovered the Daily Offices, that is, the daily services of Morning and Evening Prayer, and these along with the Scriptures were key to George’s ministry from then on. At the celebration of George’s life and ministry, we heard these words as an open Bible was placed on the coffin, “In life George was nourished by the Word of God”.
George ministered in a number of parishes, Traralgon, Omeo and Wonthaggi in the Diocese of Gippsland, and Kyabram in the Diocese of Bendigo.
George served briefly with the Department of Christian Education in the Diocese of Melbourne then as the director of the General Board of Religious Education, a National Anglican Church ministry. Many people across the Australian Church met George through programs such as Education for Ministry, the Institute of Theological Education, and other Christian Education programs. In 1981, George was episcopally ordained in St John’s Cathedral Brisbane and then served as ninth Bishop of Rockhampton for fifteen years.
He returned to Melbourne where he served at St Paul’s Canterbury as vicar and then as locum at Vermont. In retirement, George was involved with ministry in the Box Hill parish and was of great assistance to the Chinese faith community.
George had a very strong pastoral concern and set up Careforce, which became Anglicare. He reached out to our First Nation people. In 1988, George stated that the Australian Bicentenary celebration was an “historical absurdity” as it failed to recognise 40,000 years of Aboriginal culture. His Synod Charges were insightful and challenging, addressing both church and society issues.
George not only brought to the Diocese of Rockhampton, but also to the National Church as well, the Adult Catechumenate, which sought to bring people to faith in Christ. George was an avid reader, having several books in the go at one time. He was up to date with the latest theological publications. However, his faith was not just head knowledge, it had to be lived out, put into action seeking to help those who were exploring the Christian faith.
George was very pastoral bishop. He phoned all his clergy every Easter and Christmas wishing for them well for their services. George took the preparation of sermons seriously. Often on a Friday he would ask clergy how the sermon preparation was coming along, only to hear, “I have finished mine”. George ordained many people. At my deaconing he told us to read the Exhortation and Examination every month. He said the same thing when I was priested and consecrated bishop. I can still hear George saying this is what is required of you in living out your vocation, as an ordained person.
Bishop George was strongly supported in his ministries by his beloved wife Adele. Adele and George were very hospitable people and gracious hosts.
Family was very important to him. He was proud of the achievements of his children and grandchildren. George was a keen gardener, loved his various pets as well as enjoying travel overseas to visit family. He enjoyed catching up with retired clergy and sharing in robust discussion. With all his ministries and interests, George was passionate.
Brian Farran wrote of George: “A true champion of the Faith. A great bishop and an exemplary Christian. I owe George so much for my formation as a Christian and as a bishop”. That is true for many people.
Both the Church and the Community were blessed because of the life and ministry of George Arthur Hearn. May we, like George, may be people of vision, initiative, compassion and faith so that love of Christ is made known.
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